The US Defense Department Missile Defense Agency plans to conduct a long-planned flight test of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system within the next few days, according to a DOD official.

The exact date of the planned test is not being disclosed until it has taken place. The THAAD is based at the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska.

According to the official, the test is not related to North Korea’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

THAAD is designed to shoot down short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles with shorter ranges than the ICBM that North Korea launched Tuesday.

The test will involve the THAAD seeking to detect, track and engage a target with an interceptor missile.

Each THAAD system is comprised of five major components: interceptors, launchers, a radar, a fire control unit and support equipment, according to Lockheed Martin, the security and aerospace company that serves as the prime contractor for the equipment.

The radar first detects an incoming missile, those manning the system identify the threat then a launcher mounted to a truck fires a projectile, which Lockheed Martin calls an “interceptor,” at the ballistic missile in the hopes of destroying it using kinetic energy — basically just its sheer speed.

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SOURCE: CNN, Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen

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